Nativity! is a 2009 British Christmas comedy film directed by Debbie Isitt and released on 27 November 2009 and the first installment in the Nativity film series. The film stars Martin Freeman and Ashley Jensen. The film was written by its director, Debbie Isitt, but was also partially improvised. The film premiered on 23 November 2009 in the SkyDome Arena, Coventry, England.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Debbie Isitt|
|Produced by||Nick Jones|
|Written by||Debbie Isitt|
|Music by||Nicky Ager |
|Cinematography||Sean Van Hales|
|Edited by||Nicky Ager|
|Distributed by||Freestyle Releasing |
It was released in cinemas on 27 November, three weeks after rival festive film Disney's A Christmas Carol opened. A sequel, Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger, was released in November 2012. A third film, Nativity 3: Dude, Where's My Donkey?, was released in November 2014. A fourth film, Nativity Rocks!, was released in October 2018.
Paul Maddens is a teacher at St Bernadette's Catholic primary school in Coventry. Paul once had ambitions of being successful as an actor, producer or director. Every year St Bernadette's competes with Oakmoor, a local Protestant private school, to see who can produce the best nativity play.
Paul hates Christmas because his girlfriend at drama school, Jennifer Lore, broke up with him at Christmas. The headteacher, Mrs Bevans, tasks him with running their nativity play this year, and gives him a new teaching assistant named Mr Poppy, who turns out to be more of a child than the students.
Paul's rival from drama school, Gordon Shakespeare, runs the nativity plays at Oakmoor. Determined not to be seen as a failure, Paul lies to Shakespeare about how a Hollywood producer, Jennifer, will be turning his production into a Hollywood film (though he hasn't spoken to her in five years). Mr Poppy overhears this and is so excited that he spreads the story to the press. Paul finds his lie is out of control, and all he can do is go along with it as media attention mounts and the children get very excited.
The children are nowhere near as talented as the Oakmoor students, and Paul has little confidence in their abilities. The enthusiastic Mr Poppy helps him and the class to create an energetic, interesting nativity which showcases all of the children's unique (and often strange) talents.
Paul tries to contact Jennifer to make the lie come true, even travelling to America to persuade her to visit. It turns out that she is only the secretary to a film producer, and he returns home disappointed.
Amid continuing media attention and the Mayor's kind offer to allow the play to be performed in the historical ruins of Coventry Cathedral, Mrs Bevans discovers that the Hollywood story was a lie and cancels the play, advising Paul to start looking for another job. Paul shouts at Mr Poppy about everything going wrong, but comes to his senses when facing his disappointed class and decides that the show must go on.
The play is performed at the cathedral to an audience of the children's parents and family friends. The production is amazingly good, to the surprise of everyone involved. Halfway through, Gordon climbs on stage to tell everybody that there is nobody from Hollywood there and the entire story was a lie. Luckily, a helicopter flies over and Mr Poppy declares that it's Hollywood arriving; the show continues, and Jennifer and her producer indeed appear at the back to watch. Paul joins them and, still in love, kisses Jennifer. The play ends with everyone, including Gordon and Mrs Bevans (who has a change of heart), is reunited onstage to celebrate the children's success.
As the film closes, Paul and Jennifer are shown decorating his house together for Christmas, reunited at last.
- Martin Freeman as Paul Maddens, a primary school teacher trying to produce and direct a nativity play that will for once outdo a rival school.
- Marc Wootton as Desmond Poppy, nephew of Mrs Bevan and immature classroom assistant.
- Jason Watkins as Gordon Shakespeare, a private primary school teacher and long-time rival of Paul.
- Ashley Jensen as Jennifer Lore, formerly a Hollywood secretary and Paul's girlfriend at the end of the film.
- Alan Carr as Patrick Burns, critic.
- Ricky Tomlinson as The Mayor.
- Pam Ferris as Mrs Patricia Bevan, the headmistress of St. Bernadette's Primary School.
- Clarke Peters as Mr Parker, a Hollywood director, Jennifer's boss during her time at Hollywood.
- Geoffrey Hutchings as Father Tom.
- Rosie Cavaliero as Miss Rye.
|Mr Maddens' Class||Mr Shakespeare's Class|
|Alexandra Allen as Cleo||Aidofe McLeod as Grace|
|Ben Wilby as Bob||Anna Price as Ellen|
|Bernard Mensah as TJ||Arun Nahar as Jake|
|Brandon McDonald as Oli||Bessie Cursons as Christy|
|Cadi Mullane as Crystal||Bethany Carter as Daisy|
|Caitlin Cronin as Lucy||Charlie Dixon as Thomas|
|Dominic McKernan as Dan||Cherie Ng as Nicola|
|Ellie Coldicutt as Beth||Eleanor Bonas as Rachel|
|Faye Dolan as Jade||Francesca York as Caroline|
|James Warner as Buddy||Freddie Watkins as Sebastian|
|Jake Pratt as Alfie||Georgina Owen as Emily|
|Joe Lane as Edward||Hannah Ciotknowski as Elizabeth|
|Joshan Patel as Bill||Harriet Kilner as Charlotte|
|Krista Hyatt as Becky||Hayley Downing as Victoria|
|Maeve Dolan as Sam||Imogen Stern as Phoebe|
|Michael McAuley as William||Katie Maguire as Megan|
|Milly Webb as Neve||Katie Stafford as Molly|
|Morgan Brennan as Charlotte||Lauren Downing as Joanne|
|Rebecca Maguire as Saffron||Lily-Rose Sharry as Lynette|
|Reece Stowe as Fraser||Michael Brown as Charles|
|Rhyannon Jones as Alice||Molly Burton as Catherine|
|Sam Tott as Matt||Mi Tuulikki Kelly as Lorna|
|Sydney Isitt-Ager as Sadie||Safiya Asharia as Sophie|
|Thomas McGaritty as Zack||Salim Zayyan as Percival|
|Oscar Steer as Auditionee||Taylor Drew as Harry|
|Harvey Flanagan as Tyrese||Chris Reynolds as Freddy|
On 17 November 2016, it was announced that the film will be adapted into a stage musical, with it making its world premiere at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre in October 2017, before touring to Cliffs Pavilion, Southend, Sheffield Lyceum Theatre, Manchester Palace Theatre, Plymouth Theatre Royal, Eventim Apollo, and Leeds Grand Theatre over the Christmas season. It was written and directed by Debbie Isitt, with music by Isitt and Nicky Ager, choreography by Andrew Wright and design by David Woodhead.
- "Principal photography commences on Debbie Isitt's Nativity". BBC. 12 August 2008. Retrieved 13 August 2008.
- PA Entertainment (11 August 2008). "BBC's Nativity comedy". Virgin Media. Archived from the original on 14 August 2008. Retrieved 13 August 2008.
- "Nativity night comes to Coventry". BBC Coventry & Warwickshire. BBC. 24 November 2009. Retrieved 27 November 2009.
- "Debbie Isitt on Twitter".
- McMullen, Marion (17 September 2008). "Alan Carr and Martin Freeman put Coventry on movie map". Coventry Telegraph. Retrieved 21 September 2008.
- "Martin Freeman to star in 'Nativity'". variety.com. 12 August 2008. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
- UK Film Council - UK Box Office: 12 - 14 February 2010